You Don’t Start at the Top

You Don’t Start At The Top

It’s proven, mules mature physically and mentally at a slower pace than horses do. However, being hybrids, it is also proven they are smarter than both their parents. Yes, that means they are smarter than the horse (a given, because horses can be forced or bossed around into doing a task) and they are smarter than the donkey, who is a thinking machine in their own species.

So, while some mule owners get impatient about the training process, that is when the roadblocks start showing up in their schooling efforts.

Everyone wants to be at the top. The time and effort put into the equation may cause some people to give up. Because with time and effort, you will make mistakes. You have to make mistakes, in order to learn. You might make a career change and try something new, or you may become hard on yourself for not making accomplishments at the pace you so desire.

And, slamming someone for their own mistakes is not a part of the working solution. This is so unsettling to me, because as humans, we tend to resort to using cheap tactics by becoming “Keyboard Karens.” I don’t dare let my mules have access to the computer, because they do know so much! Being assertive is one thing, but becoming a Keyboard Karen is not cool at all.

With all kidding aside, as humans, we can get better at our work…provided we learn from our mistakes. Quite simply, if we don’t learn from our errors, lessons are repeated until they are learned! That’s the Karma wrapped up in the Universe. It’s a big world out there and the Universe is endless.

As trainers or instructors in the mule industry, we don’t start at the top. At times, we will fail. We desire to show our best videos and photos that make us look like mule superstars, never do we show our bloopers. Dang! That opens the gate for “Keyboard Karens” to cut us down! Which brings to my mind the real fascinating stuff to this article.

Mules don’t take to internet bullying tactics. They have no interest in “Keyboard Karens” and they don’t show off muscle or “strength” to impress themselves or in an attempt to get outside approval. Mules comply to their barnyard rules of conduct, known as the pecking order. In this scenario, size doesn’t matter. The 2,500 pound draft mule is generally easy-going and follows through with the herd boss. What matters is the herd will stick together; this makes the herd structure stronger and well protected from predators. Stick with me, there’s a lesson here: mule trainers, instructors, and riders with integrity, show respect for other trainers/riders and offer assistance where needed. They won’t slam others and they show a high regard for others wherever their journey takes them.

As a side note: you can talk bad or take a slam at them from your keyboard as often or long as you want on social media. You know what? You just made an ass of yourself. And yes, the pun is intended. (wink.)

The Adventures of Bronco Laura

True Tales of Adventure from a Desperate Mid-West Housewife

True tales of adventure recorded in this book have all the elements of a good, trashy Western movie: sexy cowboys, athletic mules, runaway horses, more sexy cowboys, western action, and flirty cowgirls with cleavage that are revved up on margaritas. True escapades that have happened around the summer, steamy barn and on the trail, humorous, and witty. Available in perfect bound and instant download.

The Adventures of Bronco Laura: True Tales of Hysteria from a Desperate Mid-West Housewife – Kindle edition by Roberts, Cindy K. Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @

The Performance Bred Saddle Mule

Breeding of American Jackstock & Jennies

Introduction by Meredith Hodges, of the Lucky Three Ranch, Loveland, Colorado. Includes breeding contracts. Inaccuracies on breeding defined.

This book is dedicated to breeders, exhibitors, and the donkey and mule owners who strive for a better-performance breeding program that will favorably dominate the mule world.


In conclusion: educating the equine breeding industry is our responsibility to ensure a better future for the all-around saddle mule. In short, mules with good minds make safer mounts and mules with excellent conformation will stay in service longer as compared to those that are weak or lacking. This means, the mule will have a much better future to be in service. It is also critical to document and register the jack sires in the industry.

Overbreeding is not desirable; those dedicated to the professional mule industry are careful about their breeding standards. Mules destined for the kill pen is not a pretty picture.

The future for the performance-bred saddle mule is in our hands; the overwhelming support coming from the mule world is phenomenal! Let’s work together and keep it going! ~Cindy K. Roberts

Available in full color 8 1/2 x 11 perfect bound and instant download from Amazon books: The Performance Bred Saddle Mule: Breeding of American Jackstock & Jennies (Color Copy): Roberts, Cindy K, Hodges, Meredith: 9781796601664: Books

Life Lessons from a Rodeo Cowgirl

1994 World Champion Bull Rider, Melissa Phillips took life by the horns and rode her way to the top.

Her titles include:

  • 1985 Cowboys Regional Rodeo Association Best Dressed Cowgirl of the Finals.
  • 1992 Reserve World Champion
  • 1992 Rough Stock Rookie of the year
  • 1993 Women’s Pro Bull Riding Champion
  • 1994 Challenge of Champions—Invitational only
  • 1994 Reserve World Champion Bull Rider
  • 1995 National Cowgirl Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Nominee
  • 1995 National Cowgirl Hall of Fame Rough Stock Champion
  • 1996 Producer of 5 Bud Light Cowgirl Classics held at the Allen Ranch  Bixby, Oklahoma dedicated to Domestic Violence Intervention Service
  • 1996 Bud Light Cowgirl Classic Bull Riding Champion
  • 1997 1st Woman Bull Rider on Super Bull Tour
  • 1998 1st Woman Bull Rider World’s Toughest Tour
  • 2006 1st Woman Bull Rider Longhorn Rodeo Tour
  •  Rough Stock High Mark Ride of 3 Finals

Read her life story – available at Amazon books. Life Lessons from A Rodeo Cowgirl: Taking Life by The Horns: Roberts, Cindy K, Phillips, Melissa Geller: 9781523664627: Books

Life Lessons In the Saddle & Around the Manure Pile

Life Lessons in the Saddle & Around the Manure Pile

A collection of humorous horse and mule tales by Missouri cowgirl, Cindy K Roberts. Adventurous, true stories that took place on the trail, around the barn, and written straight from the heart. Hilarious recollections of mule antics that will keep you in stitches. Mule wrecks, stampedes, hair-raising stunts, and more! Available at Amazon – paperback or instant download! Life Lessons In The Saddle & Around The Manure Pile: Mule Tales of Whimsy from a Mid-Western Cowgirl: Roberts, Cindy K, Laura, Bronco: 9781469921105: Books

2024 Mule New Year’s Resolution

Here we are, let’s get at it! If you have questions, you know where to find me.

  1. Start an emergency mule fund. Keep tucking away extra cash for an emergency
    that may come up unexpectedly. Be smart about this, stuff happens, and as you know, you can’t bubblewrap your mules or donkeys.
  2. Clean out and organize your tack room. Use a broom to whisk away the cobwebs, wipe down your leather with conditioner, and cover your saddles/gear with a cover. Dust is destructive to leather.
  3. Focus on riding with a purpose. If you don’t have a purpose, what’s the point? That comes from a mule’s perspective. Not having a purpose develops boredom in the mule, horse, or donkey. Yes, I know you ride for therapy, to get away, to get mule time in, but remember, you’re the leader. Develop your partnership between yourself and your equine. In other words, don’t be a knucklehead. (wink)
  4. Create a plan for barn safety, such as eliminating fire hazards and loose boards. If you are a boarder, offer to help out and make a note of what is needed to keep the environment safe for your mule or horse. Contribute to a mule or donkey charity. And research the charity first to make sure they are credible. You’re doing good here, so keep moving on with the list!
  5. Contribute to a mule or donkey charity. And research the charity first to make sure they are credible. You’re doing good here, so keep moving on with the list!
  6. Build up your stamina and muscle by exercising 3-4 days a week. You don’t
    have to be a Ninja fighter; proper balance and controlling your moves will keep you in the game longer. Moving up and down stairs several times is the simplest and easiest way to develop your agility. My secret weapon is 5-pound weights. I do 25 repetitions of curls, and 10 repetitions of the overhead shoulder press. I will do 10 sets each day and it works for me.
  7. Read a mule/donkey book from a trainer or professional you look up to. If you
    want to be entertained while reading on your favorite subject, pick up one of my books, they’ve been grouch-tested! (wink)
  8. Attend a clinic either as an auditor or rider. There’s always something to be
    learned or shared with others. There are many podcasts and online clinics you can attend to suit your needs. So many choices!
  9. Stay positive and celebrate your progress. Surround yourself with friends and
    family that have a healthy outlook and support your dreams. This is all good stuff here, keep moving, you got this!
  10. Learn to refine your aids (seats, legs, hands, etc…) Remember those Ninja moves you are working on number five on this list? This will help you to be able to strengthen your body and sharpen your riding skills. I see so many riders with poor posture, riding slumped over in the saddle. One false move
    during a ride, and bam! You’re dumped!
  11. On those non-riding days, get involved with horse board games such as:
    The Fantasy Ranch board game allows you to build and manage your own dream stables. This ranching horse board game includes three different levels, making it great for people of all ages. Herd Your Horses is an exciting board game that lets you play from the rancher’s or horse’s perspective. Horse Sense is a board game that will test your own horse knowledge. Throughout the game, you will learn about horse care, health, breeds, and riding. With over 200 hundred horse fact questions, your horse skills will be put to the test. This board game allows you to expand your horse knowledge while testing you on what you know. Gallop Home board game will put your equestrian skills to the test with this intricate board game. Players can try their hand as a horse trainer, with a full range and variety of skills to choose from. Horse Bingo board game, no matter your age, Bingo is something that you can enjoy playing. This rendition of Bingo takes it to the next level by incorporating horses into the game.
  12. Keep a journal. Record or document your rides. Keep a record of time spent with
    your mule. I go back and read the journals I have kept over the years; it is enlightening to me, humorous, and so rewarding!
  13. Here we are, the final round…make this a routine before your turn-in every night: Always check on the herd, say your prayers, and stay true to yourself. You’re worth it and we have a job to do. Remember, I’m counting on you.

Pretty Mule – Bolting & Bucking

Hi Cindy,

I am hoping you can help me. I have followed your website for about a year and I really like what you do.  I have had mules since 1979 and I have done everything from working them in the woods to plowing, dressage, jumping, driving, and endurance riding. I have attached 2 pictures of two mules I had and jumping and trail riding. I have had horses and mules my whole life and I love mules.

Almost a year ago I got another mule after I lost my 38-year-old mule that I had for 34 years. This new mule is who I need help with. She is an appy mule. Her name is Rose, she is about 6 years old, 16 hands, beautiful looking, really good confirmation, beautiful mover, very athletic, very very sweet, excellent to handle, brush, vet, farrier, trailer, loves attention, she trail rides, jumps, lounges. She sounds perfect and she is almost. I have trained and ridden my whole life and this is the first horse or mule that I have not been able to work through a problem.

The problem is, she has figured out how to get me off of her one way or the other, either by bolting or bucking. I am small, 5ft 5in and about 115 lbs. I am very athletic but I am getting older. (I am 63 years old.) So I can’t keep getting thrown off. I am very sad but I can’t keep her. 

I really like what I see and how you work with animals so I was wondering if you would like her or if you know of someone who would like her. I would give her to you if you paid for the trucking. That problem is that I live in Vermont. I know this sounds crazy but I can’t have her go just anywhere plus I need to be totally up front about the problem I am having.

I have attached 6 pictures of her for you to look at her and 2 pictures of mules I had in the past.

I know this is asking a lot of you but I do hope you will consider it.

Thank you for listening to me and my mule problem.

Please let me know what you think.

Thank you, Name Withheld

WOW. This is the heartbreaking news that troubles me when people buy mules. “She is about x years old.” Records are not adequately kept on mules or livestock. And understandably so. This is where you the buyer should educate yourself on what you are purchasing.

OK, the color thing. If you have the skill set to hang tuff and be able to school your mule to the next level, then I say, get the color of mule that your heart desires. That means, when you arrive at the barn with your new mule, you take the responsibility of giving that mule a job, which gives your mule a life. And we are not talking about a life of leisure either. Pack a sandwich, bring your canteen, and start working with your mule. You, the handler/owner will need to show leadership to that mule. And if you are lacking in this, the mule will quickly pick up on this.

How To Buy a Mule & Not Get Screwed by Cindy K Roberts

Do yourself a favor – educate yourself on buying a mule and what to do after the sale. How To Buy a Mule & Not Get Screwed by Cindy K. Roberts – written by someone that has been in the mule industry since 1985. HOW TO BUY A MULE & NOT GET SCREWED – BY CINDY K ROBERTS (

Evasion Tactic – Ducking Out

Hey Cindy,

I have had this mule since she was 2 years old, I have broken a shoulder while dismounting but will not blame my mule…funny story. She is 7 now and my best friend for life. Molly has won halter classes and starting on pleasure classes. My question is how to stop these right-hand turns she makes when she feels threatened or is not willing to agree with me. Can you give me advice so I can help her? She does everything else asked of her with no problem.

Thank you, Pam

Hi Pam,

Your mule lacks confidence in certain areas and it could be that you made a pet out of your mule. Making right-hand turns or “ducking out” to avoid completing a request is what the mule will do when they are lacking in confidence. It could be that you are not being clear in your request, and your mule doesn’t understand. It could be that your mule needs more foundation work to be confident and able to perform the task. Always be clear and consistent with your requests.

Working on the lead line properly and focusing on the handler is required since day one when working with mules. This has to be established in order to progress in your schooling with your mule. And, mules look for leadership since they are prey animals. 

Your mule doesn’t respect you as being the leader.  Harsh corrections are not going to solve this issue.  Seven is the age when the mule is mature and should be willing and confident provided he/she had positive and effective schooling. Confidence Training for The Western Saddle Mule will enable you to move forward with your mule’s schooling. 

Work on her foundation training to establish confidence and move forward from that. Keep a positive, working relationship going with your mule and she will look forward to learning and pleasing you. Thanks for writing and let me know how things work out. 


Thank you for your advice . You may be right, we both lack confidence; me being fearful of getting hurt again . My mule gives me all she has when I ask her to, but, when a man gets too close that’s when the right-turn evasion tactic happens, but we will keep working on it .

Thank you again. Pam.


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